Day Six: World Rowing Championships
The Canadian women's eight put on an excellent show today in Bled, Slovenia, picking up a silver medal and ensuring that Canada has a spot in the Olympic Games in this event next year.
The U.S. won in 06:03.65, with Canada less than a second behind in 06:04.39, followed by Great Britain in 06:06.03.
"I felt that with 250 metres to go, it was going to be very close," said the women's eight coach, John Keogh. "I thought they were vying for the lead. This probably makes them even hungrier - they wanted to win, obviously, and didn't, so we'll try a few things over the year and find more speed."
The women's eight is Lesley Thompson-Willie (London, ON), Andreanne Morin (Montreal, QC), Darcy Marquardt (Richmond, BC), Ashley Brzozowicz (London, ON), Krista Guloien (Port Moody, BC), Rachelle Viinberg (Regina, SK), Natalie Mastracci (Thorold, ON), Cristy Nurse (Georgetown, ON) and Janine Hanson (Winnipeg, MB).
Hanson said: "It really was a dog fight, it was a pretty solid race. We can't be disappointed, but we wanted to win." The women had the lead through the 1000 metre mark of the 2000m race, only to be overtaken by the United States, the World and Olympic Champions
"It was a pretty exceptional race, we went out to win of course, so the silver medal is fantastic, but we need to make that next step," said Andreanne Morin, who was a part of this crew when they also took silver last year at the Worlds. "Lesley (the veteran Olympic coxswain) had some pretty motivating words for us - cool heads, big lungs and fire in the heart, and that really helped me in the race today."
The Canadian men's coxed pair also reached the podium today. Italy won in 06:56.45; Australia was second in 06:58.20, and Canada crossed the line in 07:00.76 for the bronze position in this non-Olympic event.
This was coxswain Brian Price's second medal of the regatta (he won a bronze with the men's eight yesterday), this time with Kevin Light of Sidney, BC, and Steven Van Knotsenburg of Beamsville, ON. It's also the fourth time (2003, 2006, 2007, 2011) Price has raced the coxed pair and the fourth bronze medal for him in this event.
VanKnotsenburg and Light are the alternates for the men's program, and Light was a member of the gold medal men's eight in Beijing: "I've always rowed in the eight, and to not be in it, but to be part of it, was different for me. I felt like I supported the guys and I feel like I contributed to their race yesterday. ... To win the medal today was a confidence boost as it's my first medal since Beijing. The bronze is great, but the biggest thing is that we had a good race."
Also today, the men's coxless pair was second in its semi and advance to the final. With the top 11 boats qualifying for the Olympics, this locks up an Olympic berth for Canada in this event. The Canadian pair consists of Olympic silver and 2011 Lucerne World Cup bronze medalists David Calder (Victoria, BC) and Scott Frandsen (Kelowna, BC).
"We had a good race to qualify for the final - but perhaps more significantly we secured a berth for Canada at the 2012 London Olympic Games in an event that showcases many of the top rowers in the world," said Calder, who is a three-time Olympian. "Now we can focus on tomorrow and the final. To make it onto the podium, we will have to have a great performance."
Great Britain finished first in this semifinal in 06:31.66, Canada took second 06:35.97, Germany third in 06:36.82 - followed by the U.S., Hungary, and France who are relegated to the B final.
New Zealand (06:28.65), Italy (06:34.42), and Greece (6:34.73) move to the final from the other semi of the men's pair.
The Canadian men's double (Fraser Berkhout of St. Catharines, ON, and Mike Wilkinson of North Vancouver, BC) finished fifth today in its B final, or 11th overall. This qualifies the boat for Canada for the 2012 Olympic Games. The race played out as follows: Estonia 06:20.02, Norway 06:21.60, Argentina 06:21.98, Lithuania 06:22.12, Canada 06:25.37 and the Czech Republic 07:22.45.
"The team as a whole is performing well. We've got two big days left in this regatta and five crews still in the hunt," said Rowing Canada Aviron High Performance Director Peter Cookson. "We're making steady progress toward our team goals. It's very exciting."
In the lightweight women's single, Tracy Cameron of Shubenacadie, NS, who rowed here despite still rehabilitating from injury, finished sixth overall in 7:54.08. A Brazilian sculler won this non-Olympic event today, followed by Switzerland and Germany.
Also today, the lightweight men's four was second in the C final to finish 14th overall. This lightweight men's four crew is John Sasi (North Delta, BC), Mike Lewis (Victoria, BC), Rares Crisan (Mississauga, ON) and Matt Jensen (Innerkip, ON). The U.S. won this race in 6:15.21, and Canada's time was 6:17.50.
Canada has three medals at this regatta so far (men's eight - bronze, men's coxed pair - bronze and women's eight - silver), and tomorrow's Canadian races include: adaptive four (semi); men's four (semi); lightweight men's and women's doubles (semis); men's pair (final) and women's double (C final).